According to Webster Merriam, saturation is “the result of supplying so much of something that no more is wanted.” Like a sponge that’s been soaked so thoroughly it can’t absorb another drop, a saturated market is so ripe with suppliers that consumers can’t keep up. The buying public loses interest, and the market dies. It’s happened to the automotive industry numerous times, though the “dot com craze” of the 1990s is probably the most famous example. But what if niche saturation was a myth?
Saturation, or Just Competition?
Today, there’s a laundry list of markets which are frequently cited as examples of oversaturation. The weight loss industry is probably the predominant example of market saturation, with other notable mentions going out to blogging, energy drinks, and the legal market.
Supply and demand — one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of business — posits that too much supply results in diminished demand, which in turn leads to diminished value and eventual collapse. When this happens, economists say that a “bubble” has burst, and thousands of discouraged entrepreneurs must drag themselves back to the drawing board to try something new.
But what if saturation — not its existence, perhaps, but all the negative associations — were mere fabrication? What if we replaced the word “saturated” with the phrase “highly competitive?”
If a Market Always Has Customers, Can it Really Be Called Saturated?
Consider this. Saturation implies that consumer interest dwindles to the bare minimum, and may even die out altogether. To return to our earlier examples, weight loss products are often touted as a saturated market.
On the surface, it makes sense. After all, there are thousands upon thousands of pills, potions, and fad diets claiming you can “lose five pounds in just ten days!” (And so on and so forth.) While a good deal of consumers might roll their eyes at such a claim, the following facts remain unchanged:
- Whether driven by health, vanity, or some other motivation, millions of Americans want to lose weight.
- Every year, the U.S. weight loss industry rakes in a whopping $20 billion on average.
Are there countless weight loss products available? Yes. Does the market really need any new books, diets, or pills? Probably not.
But will there always be people — i.e. consumers — trying to slim down? Yes. So while the competition may be incredibly fierce, the market cannot truly be called “saturated” in that it’s built in perpetual interest.
The term “weight loss industry,” of course, includes countless companies and customers — hardly a niche, much less a micro-niche. But the basic principle remains true, even when you narrow the market down to a much smaller segment.
For example, let’s say one niche of the overall weight loss industry is dedicated to “weight loss apps for women.” Even after you strip away the male and the non-digital consumer base, you’re left with an intensely competitive niche (thanks largely to America’s obsession with all things app). You might argue it’s even… saturated. There are, after all, hundreds of apps to choose from.
But if it were really a saturated niche, would there still be thousands of downloads across the country every day?
If you would like to find out more about niche marketing, I invite you to contact me. I have been helping professional service providers such as CPAs, attorneys, and financial services providers focus their business development efforts on profitable micro-niches for over 10 years. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.